The aqueous extract of the leaves of Olea europaea and Olea lancea both inhibited Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) in vitro. A bioassay-directed fractionation resulted in the isolation of a strong ACE-inhibitor namely the secoiridoid 2-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)ethyl 4-formyl-3-(2-oxoethyl)-4 E-hexenoate (oleacein) (IC(50) = 26 μM). Five secoiridoid glycosides (oleuropein, ligstroside, excelcioside, oleoside 11-methyl ester, oleoside) isolated from Oleaceous plants showed no significant ACE-inhibition whereas, after enzymatic hydrolysis, the ACE-inhibition at 0.33 mg/ml was between 64% to 95%. Secoiridoids have not been described previously in the literature as inhibitors of ACE. Oleacein showed a low toxicity in the brine shrimp (Artemia satina) lethality test (LC(50) (24 h) = 969 ppm).